The Chilean architect announced that his studio, Elemental, will open-source four of its affordable housing designs. The projects can be downloaded, for free, from Elemental’s website (here).
Aravena delivered the news at a press conference held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. That a Pritzker Prize winner would give away his ideas for free is unusual; typically, the title of Pritzker Laureate enables architects to seek out bigger, grander commissions. But Aravena’s work is aimed at social uplift. He has, if not invented, then at least branded, an approach to architecture called “incremental design.” This method calls for building the foundations and frames for homes, and then leaving them unfinished, so the community that moves in can make the houses its own.
The open-source initiative will make available CAD drawing files for four of Elemental’s completed projects: the Quinta Monroy, Lo Barnechea, and Villa Verde developments in Chile, and the Monterrey Housing complex in Monterrey, Mexico. The hope, Aravena says, is that government offices in charge of affordable housing projects will see that these plans have succeeded before, and will take advantage of the price tag—or lack thereof. It addresses an accessibility problem that often plagues architecture; other initiatives, like architecture firm UMA’s Paperhouses project, have also aspired to using open-source designs to ameliorate the issue. […]